Mark Watson * * * *
at Warwick Arts Centre
Review by Simon Harper

It's difficult to ignore the sub-sets of comedy which have come to dominate stand-up over the past few years - there's the comedy of personality, the storytelling show, the Big Idea and the one-liner fest, to name a few. The two things which seem to link all of these are the comedy of embarrassment, and a requisite shambling style.

The latter was certainly a feature of Mark Watson's set. The ardent Bristol City fan doesn't really "do" glitz - in fact, he started this show in the audience and casually introduced himself with an endearingly rambling explanation, interrupting himself repeatedly to fabulous comic effect. On making it to the stage, Watson launched into the theme of this, his second UK tour, with the impressively rhetorical title Can I Briefly Talk to You About the Point of Life?

Since his debut tour, he has had his own Radio 4 series, the splendid Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better, and published his second novel, but this show focused on the events of his 27th birthday, which prompted him to ponder his existence.

There were stories about people running to catch trains - complete with Watson replaying his efforts at living his sports commentator dreams - through to his childhood despair at losing a game of Connect Four, and his unreciprocated attempts at playing a lunch-based version of Snap with a fellow passenger.

Watson found mirth in minutiae, delivered with wide-eyed wonder. Easily at home on a bigger stage than he's previously been accustomed to, Watson fizzed with a giddy energy while gags spilled throughout, his set heart-warming and winning.

His strength lies in an appreciation of the mundane, wringing great laughter from these observations, and Watson's flights of fancy and whimsical insight were hung together by a charming, earnest philosophy. Big, clever and extraordinarily funny.